August 3, 2008 archive

The Weapon of Young Gods #31: Artificial Archaeology

My mother used to say that I had an advanced case of “Prince Henry the Navigator Syndrome,” and she was more prescient than I think even she knew. When I was a kid I absorbed ridiculous amounts of historical and geographical trivia, even before the onset of nightmarish insomnia made those useful distractions a necessity. Crumpled National Geographics and outdated Britannicas taught me about anything I wanted to know, anywhere in the world, but that didn’t make me want to actually visit any of the places I studied. Home may have been a disaster zone, but it was still home, the devil I knew as opposed to the unknown vast outside universe. The few family road trips I was subjected to as a child were sagas of hellish torture and crushing boredom. One summer, Modesto was a wretched sauna, Yuba City a muggy, sweaty armpit, and Arcata took the crown of Nastiest Refuge for the Crazed Legions of Plague-Ridden Killer Insects-or so I felt at the time. I garnered little sympathy from my stepfather on these occasions; one of the most vivid memories I have of him was enduring his withering, exasperated scowls as I whined pathetically all the way up the highway toward our next rest stop.

Of course, Prince fucking Henry was royalty, so that coddled little bastard could lounge around all he wanted in that cozy castle retreat in westernmost Portugal. He could watch the caravels sail in from India or Africa or America, and he was anxious to leech out the conquistadors’ tales of foreign lands for the sake of his own cartographical amusement. I’d always tried, all those years, to not be insulted by Mom’s unintentionally accurate caricature of me, but it annoyed me then and still rankles today, ten years after her death. I was trying to explain all this to Frankie in her dorm room on the night after I returned to school, still reeling from the potent stimuli of the weekend’s mild rock deviance and harrowing sexual fear. I hadn’t meant to spill out random family history to a girl I that I was apparently-according to Olivia-supposed to mistrust, but like everything else at that time, I had no idea what really mattered, and anyway, I never failed to rise to the challenge of out-weirding anyone else’s exotically bizarre family stories. Anyway, the Italian Front had been quiet for a good twenty-four hours, but I could feel it stirring in its sleep ever since I got back from the train station, so when the action finally began I was more than ready.

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Through the Darkest of Nights: Testament XXXI

Every few days over the next several months I will be posting installments of a novel about life, death, war and politics in America since 9/11.  Through the Darkest of Nights is a story of hope, reflection, determination, and redemption.  It is a testament to the progressive values we all believe in, have always defended, and always will defend no matter how long this darkness lasts.  But most of all, it is a search for identity and meaning in an empty world.

Naked and alone we came into exile.  In her dark womb, we did not know our mother’s face; from the prison of her flesh have we come into the unspeakable and incommunicable prison of this earth. Which of us has known his brother?  Which of us has looked into his father’s heart?  Which of us has not remained prison-pent?  Which of us is not forever a stranger and alone?      ~Thomas Wolfe

All installments are available for reading here on Docudharma’s Series page, and also here on Docudharma’s Fiction Page, where refuge from politicians, blogging overload, and one BushCo outrage after another can always be found.

In the Country (photo heavy)



A Summer recipe:

Take one large grassy field, one half-dozen children, three furry

dogs, and walk along a narrow strip of creek, pebbly if possible.

Mix the children with the dogs thoroughly, empty them into the field,

stirring occasionally.

Sprinkle the entire with daisies, buttercups and dandelions. Pour

creek gently over pebbles

and cover all with a periwinkle sky and bake in hot sun for several


When children are thoroughly browned, they may be removed.

They will be found right & ready for setting away to cool in the


Weekend News Digest

Weekend News Digest is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 AP IMPACT: Seoul probes civilian `massacres’ by US

By CHARLES J. HANLEY and JAE-SOON CHANG, Associated Press Writers

45 minutes ago

SEOUL, South Korea – South Korean investigators, matching once-secret documents to eyewitness accounts, are concluding that the U.S. military indiscriminately killed large groups of refugees and other civilians early in the Korean War.

A half-century later, the Seoul government’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission has more than 200 such alleged wartime cases on its docket, based on hundreds of citizens’ petitions recounting bombing and strafing runs on South Korean refugee gatherings and unsuspecting villages in 1950-51.

Concluding its first investigations, the 2 1/2-year-old commission is urging the government to seek U.S. compensation for victims.

The Crossroads of Destiny: Illegal Search And Siezure Cross Border into Existential Hypocrisy

It’s right there in the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution:


Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.


Do not pass go, do not collect two hundred dollars, do not parse, do not fold, mutilate, spindle, tear, gut, burn or shred.

In keeping with policies and procedures consistent with gutting the foundational principles of our Constitution and democracy, the Bush Administration’s Department of Homeland Security has proceeded to ignore the care and handling advice and has engaged in the very actions verboten by those instructions.

The Blade

Like everyone else, I was stunned by the events of 9/11/2001. But pretty quickly I felt very alone in my reactions (that was pre-blog days) as I continued to feel stunned and sad. It seemed like it was only days before the rest of the country moved on to anger and the need for revenge. I couldn’t go there. Perhaps alot of that was because I didn’t understand what had just happened. And I felt the need to understand.

So I did what I usually do to try and understand things that are outside of my previous experience…I read. Specifically, I read what I knew would give me the “behind the scenes story” about times and places that are different from my own…women’s stories.

Pony Party: Sunday music retrospective

Postcard from La La Land

Mama Cass:  California Earthquake

Pony Party: Sunday music retrospective

Postcard from La La Land

Mama Cass:  California Earthquake

HONORING THE FALLEN: US Military KIA, Iraq/Afganistan – July 2008

Staff Sgt. Alex Jimenez comes home for funeral

A hearse bearing the remains of 25-year-old Staff Sgt. Alex Jimenez came to a halt in front of his father’s house in Lawrence, the scene of a 14-month vigil as the family awaited word of his fate. A memorial shrine with floral arrangements and half-burned votive candles was on the sidewalk. (7-25-08)

Docudharma Times Sunday August 3

First Do No


Except When Its

Illegal Immigrants

Sick, Injured

Deport Them  No One Will Notice

Sunday’s Headlines:

Hovering Above Poverty, Grasping for Middle Class

Warning on al-Qaeda’s new female recruits

Italian government soothes sunbathers burnt by high prices

Defiant Iran spurns deal over uranium plant

Syria closes in on peace deal with Israel

N Korea steps up row with South

Pakistan may step up action against insurgents

WITNESS-In search of invisible borders in central Africa

Zimbabwe has to figure out its future – the West can only hope it gets it right

China’s Olympic challenge

On the eve of the most politically charged Games in decades, can Beijing change its ways?

By Clifford Coonan in Beijing and Raymond Whitaker

Sunday, 3 August 2008

China was under pressure yesterday to lift censorship and honour its human rights guarantees as thousands of athletes, officials and tourists began arriving for the Olympics, which Beijing’s Communist leadership sees as the moment the country takes its rightful place on the world stage.

With only five days to go before the Games, on which the country has spent £20bn, anticipation among Chinese is high. Many in Beijing are quoting the saying “Bai nian bu yu”, which translates as “We’ve been waiting 100 years for this”.

HIV epidemic in U.S. worse than previously thought, CDC says

Based on new testing methods, the CDC says there are actually about 56,300 new infections a year — not 40,000 — and that rate has been fairly constant for a decade.

By Thomas H. Maugh II, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

August 3, 2008

Federal officials have been underestimating the number of new HIV infections in the United States by 40% every year for more than a decade, a finding that indicates the U.S. epidemic is much worse than thought, researchers said Saturday.

Using sophisticated testing to identify new infections, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded that there are about 56,300 new infections each year, not the 40,000 figure that has been gospel for so long.

The new numbers do not mean that the epidemic is growing in this country, just that researchers have been able to provide more accurate estimates, said Dr. Kevin Fenton, director of the CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention. He said the number of new infections has remained relatively constant since the late 1990s.

Still, the higher estimates were a jarring reminder that the United States, while castigating prevention efforts in much of the world, has not been able to get a firm grip on its own problems.


Immigrants Deported, by U.S. Hospitals


Published: August 3, 2008

JOLOMCÚ, Guatemala – High in the hills of Guatemala, shut inside the one-room house where he spends day and night on a twin bed beneath a seriously outdated calendar, Luis Alberto Jiménez has no idea of the legal battle that swirls around him in the lowlands of Florida.Shooing away flies and beaming at the tiny, toothless elderly mother who is his sole caregiver, Mr. Jiménez, a knit cap pulled tightly on his head, remains cheerily oblivious that he has come to represent the collision of two deeply flawed American systems, immigration and health care.

Not One Serious or Socially Useful Word

Long ago and far away, when animals could talk (and a pleasure it is to start a diary that way), there were tiger stories and lemur stories and coyote stories; really good stories; and of course we keep telling those stories.  But when we paved and burned and ate the places tiger and lemur and coyote lived, no one saw them anymore, or not as much, and so fewer of their stories were remembered; indeed their story became all about the sentiment of loss.  “It is sad about the tigers” people say; and so they should; but this is a shade before, right at the twilight of wild things. 

The Weapon of Young Gods #30: The Bait and The Switch

I check out of the emergency room early Monday morning, just short of forty-eight hours after blundering into the savage beating that had blown my weekend apart in a frenzy of shame. So much had happened between then and now, but so little of it had penetrated my battered body or wretched state of mind, and simply trying to process everything is now taking up most of my mental power as I limp through the hospital’s massive, hectic waiting room. It’s full of other people’s pain and boredom, but I’ve had too much of both of those things in the past two days to bother with any empathy. I shuffle past the automatic doors toward a bath of impossibly bright sunshine, and the low hum of surrounding commotion inside gives way to the more diluted static outside.

I put some distance between me and the entrance, slumping on a bench fifty feet from the doors. It’s a little warm and my bandages begin to itch as I sweat through them, but I just add that to the massive catalogue of small annoyances that I’ll have to endure before the wounds heal. I resist a temptation to rip the fresh gauze off my face, and am just beginning to sink beneath the haze of muffled aches and pains when an old Datsun pickup suddenly lurches into the loading zone in front of me and rumbles to a halt. The passenger door swings open and a tired, exasperated female voice says “You’re up and out earlier than I thought. Come on Derek, get in. I’ll take you home.” Lisa lifts her eyebrows expectantly, patting the seat with her thin hands, probably hoping that I will yet again be too much of a sucker to not take the bait.

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